Jenna McDougall is a figure who has constantly opted for a paradigm shift within the at times, self-loathing and pitying world of pop punk and emo. Having yielded an undying impact on Australia’s scene, Tonight Alive have gone from dominating the stages of local venues to taking on international festivals, ultimately issuing an integral statement to every listener and audience member they encounter.
Growing up in an unforgiving industry that often devalues the efforts of women, Jenna’s unique experiences have shaped the band’s probing overarching message. It’s a statement of ferocity, self-improvement and ultimately, being the change you wish to see affected in those around you – Tonight Alive were incepted to alter the lives of those who experience them, a theme at the crux of the excellent Underworld.
The release of 2015’s Limitless the band delve head first into spiritually informed pop music that seeks a higher purpose. The album unravels the tribulations faced in a transition from innocence and maturity, showcasing the pain that follows. On Underworld, Tonight Alive aren’t victims to their pain.
Underworld is the discovery of an equilibrium between chaos and control, finding restraint and cosmic release in every immense hook, roaring guitar and pulsating drum groove. Throughout every sweeping ebb and glowing flow, the band ask fans to rally and question their paths and take control.
The narrative of womanhood is embedded within the blistering alt-rock anthems that stare down the barrel of conflict with confidence, compassion and a willingness to grow. From the opening reverberations of Book Of Love, showcasing a further foray into stadium rock, the band’s unabashed fearlessness to explore both dissonant and smooth soundscapes is symbolic of their overarching message – suffering is a choice and you’re the captain of your own trajectory. Open book delivery of lyrics invite you to experience enlightenment alongside the band – sing this until your lungs give out.
The slamming, hard rock banger, Temple, sees the band pound away at an ideology founded on limits and boundaries, with the saccharine drenched chorus hook carrying the power of reclaiming your own psychical perception. Drum fills tumble like rockslides and punishingly heavy power chords culminate in an epic breakdown fit for an enthralling live experience.
Burning On is drenched in pulsating synths that drive the thick chorus melody into a sea of fulfilled desires. Slow-burning anthem The Other showcases the struggles faced when entering a world that doesn’t always hold a woman’s best interests at heart, whilst heartstring-tugging balladry finds a perfect home in For You, a throwback to mid-00s pop musing with a signature Tonight Alive edge. Lynn Gunn’s feature on Disappear opts for an extra pop kick, with her dream-like vocals finding a perfect home amidst Jenna’s growl.
In a world where Instagram pages force us to believe that peace is only an acai bowl and a green smoothie away, Tonight Alive are here to remind you that light is only found once darkness is accepted, fought and persisted through. Underworld is a searing, powerful mission statement for all to follow – it’s allowing you to admit mistakes and learn from them within a community fuelled by catharsis. Find your Underworld.
Underworld is out via UNFD on January 12.